July 2007


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

Our Mission

Praire Fire Newspaper. From left:  Aaron Vacin, Cris Trautner, and Rod Hutt.
We are Prairie Fire newspaper. We are the progressive voice of the Great Plains. Our goal is to engage our readership with thoughtful, bipartisan discourse on public policy matters complemented by compelling analyses and critiques of the arts and humanities.

News with Whimsy

By David Holahan

Let me explain what’s wrong with newspapers, which are losing circulation faster than the Arctic is molting ice. I know something about newspapers. I was a paperboy. Later, but not by much, I owned one, which several friends and I started from scratch. Then we bought a second weekly to create the smallest media chain in the Western Hemisphere.

Alfredisms - An Introduction

The Polk Progress was a Nebraska treasure that ceased publication in late 1989 after 82 years as a weekly newspaper. From 1955 until its last issue, the editor and publisher was the late Norris Alfred. In its last few months, the Progress had 900 subscribers in 45 states. Alfred was a remarkable Nebraskan with an uncanny eye for connecting the present with the future.

Immigration and America

Immigration policy has concerned this nation even before we became the United States of America. Our Congress has adopted immigration policies from one extreme to the opposite end of the policy continuum over our nation's 231 years. We are again divided over the future direction of our national immigration policy. The divisions in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are merely reflective of the same divisions in our electorate.

Liberals beware: There is a high cost to 'cheap' labor

By Richard D. Lamm There is a liberal case for controlling illegal immigration that is seldom articulated. As the issue heats up and sides are drawn, both objectivity and civility seem to be in short supply. Armed citizen groups travel to the border with Mexico as self-appointed border guards, setting the stage for worrisome and perhaps violent conflict. Defenders of illegal immigrants call any and all concern about this issue "racist" and attempt to take the issue completely off the table. The wise words directed at another subject by the late John Gardner seem to apply; the issue is "caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers."

Federal immigration reform and the future of the U.S. workforce

By Jim Partington Immigration reform is a complex and very visible political issue confronting our political leadership today. We have an interesting and somewhat confusing dichotomy in the United States with our attitudes toward economic growth and immigration. James Canton in his book Future Shock and other demographers raise alarms about the future of our workforce after the Baby Boom generation retires. The generations following are insufficient in numbers to replace them in key leadership and productivity positions. This will clearly affect our ability to remain competitive in the global economy.

A Critique of Contemporary Cinema Criticism

By Don Hanway Probably no one becomes a film critic unless they love movies. Nevertheless, critics who write for hire have to see a lot of movies they don't really like. We would expect them to express their distaste, but it would be gratifying if they used the opportunity to be educational as well as colorful. To be sure, many people tune into the early episodes of each new American Idol series on television, not just for the fun of watching some no-talent hopefuls make fools of themselves, but to see how witty the judges may be in expressing their disbelief and pity or contempt. No doubt film critics are tempted to pander to this impulse. Nor is this the end of their temptations, as I will delineate.

Quad States' Trails - Connecting Heartland Communities

By Katie Blesener Midwesterners have a reputation for self-sufficiency and independence. However, in the past decade Midwestern individuals, groups and communities have been joining together to make the Heartland a more appealing place to live, work and play. One of the most effective ways to attract young people and retirees, and hold onto those already living in a community, is to develop trails for walking, running and bicycling. Communities large and small with longer, connecting trails are also attracting tourists who want to bike or walk from one town to another.

Spring Creek Prairie

By Mitch Paine The booming voices of chorus frogs, the piercing melodies of redwing blackbirds, and soft colors of early spring hail the arrival of the new season. Walking the endless paths through the tallgrass, one can easily get lost in the expansive depths of the Spring Creek Prairie. Many photographers, such as Joel Sartore and Michael Forsberg, have made the Prairie the subject of unforgettable moments. These moments, etched in our minds, highlight the dedication of Spring Creek Prairie to education and conservation.

The Face of the Niemi Report

The best-case Nebraska economy of the future depends on highly productive individuals, not corporate headquarters or a smokestack industry

By Sally Herrin and W. Don Nelson Joe Hill-early 20th century labor organizer and martyr-said it best: Don't mourn-organize. By now, everyone knows that the population of most of rural America has declined precipitously over the past few decades, almost entirely due to declining farm income.

Executive Summary from "Nature-Resource Amenities and Nebraska's Economy: Current Connections, Challenges, and Possibilities"

Natural resources do not have to be converted into crops, electricity, or other commodities to support economic growth. Instead, growth can occur when natural resources provide recreational opportunities (bird-watching, fishing, boating, etc.) and other amenities consumers find desirable. This process is called amenity-driven growth.

Sonny's Corner

"Sonny's Corner" will be a regular column in Prairie Fire, featuring commentary on civil rights and justice issues. Our friend and Omaha colleague, Joseph P. "Sonny" Foster, died suddenly at age 54 in the autumn of 2006. He left an uncompleted agenda, as did many of our civil rights and justice mentors and heroes. We shall attempt to move forward on that unfinished agenda through this column. One of Sonny's earliest political mentors, former Nebraska Congressman John Cavanaugh, has written the first installment. We anxiously await many more calls to action. -W. Don Nelson

Immigration in Nebraska

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